Sunday, November 28, 2021

Just In Time For The Holiday


Just a few of the kajillion holiday light displays I saw while in Hubbard Park Saturday. Wrong time of day to enjoy the beauty of the lights, though!

Visit #1338, Saturday 27 November 21, 8:20-11:05AM, 2.4 miles, 33.0 lbs. of litter.

Temps in the low 40's, sunny with a chilly breeze.

Visit #1339, Sunday 28 November 21, 7:15-9:40AM, 4.0 miles, 8.0 lbs. of litter.

Temps in the low 30's, cloudy with very light snow flurries.

I lost last week's Battle Royale with the Moderna Covid booster. Not only did I not visit Hubbard Park, I stayed home from work on Monday, hugging my couch. Fortunately, I recovered in time for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, with which I planned a couple trips to the park.

The weather failed to cooperate on Black Friday, so Saturday it was.

Once a year I like to clean the slope behind the playscape, adjacent to I-691. This year it was a last minute decision but the weather was right and the ground was clear.

I made relatively quick progress so with plenty of time left on my hands, I traveled around the eastern parts of Hubbard Park and picked up litter there as well, which is how I took the opening photo.

I still had time to kill so I took it upon myself to trim the fence line adjacent to that I-691 slope. I only trimmed from the park's side of the fence, to improve clearances for parking. Here's a pair of Before/After shots that best illustrates what I did.

Sunday I called up the Special Projects Unit to continue trimming trees on the side of the road up to East and West Peak. Working north to south, I progressed to around Merimere Reservoir. If you look closely, you'll see I marked the letter "F" in red spray paint on the road to indicate where today's work stopped.

As I was walking back to the park and picking up litter, I came upon my Find of the Week, a boundary marker for Berlin/Meriden. Check out the date!

Now THAT is history. If only that marker could talk...

Sunday, November 21, 2021


 Here's a revelation: I didn't go to Hubbard Park this weekend! Read on and find out why.

In May of this year I received the first dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. No big deal; I felt "off" for a day or so but that was all.

However, when I received the second dose four weeks later, it absolutely crushed me. Aches, chills, fever; it was just like the flu. It was so bad I stayed home from work, underneath the covers, for two days.

The good thing was, when the symptoms cleared, they cleared within a matter of hours.

When I read in the Record Journal that the Spanish Community of Wallingford (SCOW) was hosting a free clinic Saturday, providing boosters and first/second shots of the various vaccines for the expanded range of eligible people, I jumped at the opportunity. Actually, I didn't jump; I rode my bike there.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, within eight hours I was back under the covers, which is where I've been all day today and where I'll go when I'm done here while my body repairs itself.

But I feel it's a small price to pay not only for the good of myself but for others, too.

Fortunately, I still have news to report on Hubbard Park.

Along a certain road in Hubbard Park is what's called the Face Rock. Presumably a whimsical attraction created by Walter Hubbard, it had been in a state of disrepair for decades as the marble eyes were vandalized.

Local nature photographer, amateur geologist, and all around lover of Hubbard Park Bob Pagini had expressed to me the desire to repair the rock by restoring the missing eyes. But being a stickler for detail, Bob wanted EXACT replacements. That meant not just size, but color and pattern too.

His searches were coming up dry so when he told me of his plans I figured I could help.

I dived deep into the rabbit hole that is marble collecting, and it is a very deep hole indeed.

I found and contacted Robert Block, who is a published author on marble collecting. When I told him of Bob's plans, here was his reply:

"The marble remnants you show are from US machine made marbles, not German antique marbles. The colors and patterns of each company were unique since they were a trade secret. The remnants you show are in really bad shape so it is impossible to discern the pattern. The hue of blue however was only used by Akro Agate Company and Master Marble Company. Based on the remnants of pattern, it was likely Master. This would date the marbles to 1931-1941."

So it's quite possible the Face Rock, and/or its eyes, were created after the death of Walter Hubbard.

Mr. Block offered to supply me with a suitable pair of marbles but we fell out of touch.

Some time after, I learned there was going to be a marble collector's convention in October somewhere in eastern Massachussetts. I offered to drive Bob there on the hunt for those eyes.

But as luck would have it, I learned the convention was moved to; wait for it- MERIDEN! How easy is this going to be?

Needless to say, Robert Block was there as well as someone else I found through craigslist; David Lenz of Middletown. You know David is serious about marbles when he has a business card for Marbles Wanted! Both were organizers of the convention and they definitely knew their marbles.

Both were generous with their knowledge and offered to give us the marbles for free, which is remarkable because if I recall correctly, Mr. Lenz said these marbles cost $125! We did give them a token of appreciation, put the marbles in a Brinks truck, and drove them home under guard.

This past week Bob repaired the Face Rock to its former glory. Our thanks to Robert Block and David Lenz for their valuable help.

Here's the Face Rock after Bob prepped the holes for the repairs.

And here are the completed repairs.

If you don't know where the Face Rock is, make it a scavenger hunt and find it in Hubbard Park.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Eating A Sunshine Sandwich

 Many people were like me today, enjoying the meat of a Sunshine Sandwich in Hubbard Park on Saturday.

Visit #1337, Saturday 13 November 21, 9:20AM-1:10PM, 5.8 miles, 10.5 lbs. of litter.

Temps in the low 40's but quickly rising to the low 60's; sunny, but clouding up toward the afternoon.

Rain developed Friday after sundown but ended by Saturday morning bringing in a warm breeze and sunshine. The other slice of rainy bread would arrive late Saturday afternoon but in between was a perfectly comfortable day for outdoor activities, as you can see from the parking lot at Hubbard Park above.

We must have had some high winds during the week that I don't recall. The end result was downed branches in several places which, when I visited last week, were clear. I was able to remove everything without the use of tools.

On one trail, a log I'd previously cut from a downed tree had rolled into the trail. Using a web strap, I pulled it off the trail to a more permanent resting place.

I hiked the road down from East/West Peak, using my polesaw to trim overhanging branches.

Last week, I reported discovering the lock on the gate blocking access to the Maloney Canal had been cut. I also said I e-mailed the Meriden Water Department then advising them of the missing lock.

I'm pleased to say the water department replaced the lock this week, presumably because I alerted them to the condition.

But from the Glass Half Full/Half Empty Department: You would think after I e-mailed the director of the water department he would have at least replied that they would take care of the issue, and if he was in an unusually generous mood, maybe even a Thank You somewhere in there. Instead, nothing. Those annoying taxpayers; all they do is complain!

Also reported last week was finding Cat Graffiti #10. This week was number 11.

But I was duly equipped to handle this. I sprayed on my secret elixir, turned my back for mere seconds and when I turned around, it had done most of the work for me.

Next was something I didn't need to e-mail the water department nor the parks department. This annoying taxpayer took care of it.

There was quite a warm breeze from the south moving up Merimere Reservoir, creating choppy waves.

It was still sunny when I dropped off my trash for the week, but the afternoon quickly turned cloudy, then rainy, then thunderstorms (in November!), completing the Sunshine Sandwich Saturday.

Sunday, November 7, 2021



The 7:30AM view east from the Halfway House. Yeah; it's dark. But after we turn the clocks back (did you forget?) the sun will be a bit higher in the morning.

Visit #1336, Saturday 6 November 21, 7:15AM-12:30PM, 9.1 miles, 7.2 lbs. of litter.

Temps in the low 30's to start, rising to the low 50's by noon, sunny.

Reported to me by a Meriden resident: Someone actually floated a boat on Mirror Lake while fishing last week. This is a huge no-no but still quite comical.

(Photo courtesy of Bob Pagini)    
The police and the Meriden Parks department were notified. The police department got him off the water, and the parks department will be posting signage. The Coast Guard has been notified and will begin regular patrols on Mirror Lake to catch other violators (just kidding).

I wouldn't be concerned about boaters as much as the possibility of nuclear armed North Korean submarines in Mirror Lake, which would be a huge threat to the continental United States.

This week I was to remove the huge tree I discovered last week which fell across the White and Yellow Trails. Due to the magnitude of this job, I enlisted the help of Paul Bernier. Having an assistant would be a huge time saver as I had quite a lengthy agenda. I arrived at the park early and hiked some trails to pick up trash, then did the same within the park while waiting for Paul to arrive. 

Near the Halfway House, I came upon my Find of the Week. It's too early to be thinking of ice!

We hiked to the tree and established a game plan.

It took about 45 minutes to clear this tree, which was certainly much quicker than had I worked solo.

With his job done, Paul left, and I ventured on. Next on the list was to hike all the way to the north end of Merimere Reservoir to remove a much smaller tree from a trail.

On the way up toward Castle Craig, I encountered another fallen tree. Good thing I had the chainsaw with me.

Once I reached to the top of the Orange Trail, I followed the Blue Trail to the north end of Merimere Reservoir, clearing fallen trees and branches as I hiked.

(Sorry; no "After" Photo)       
None of the above required my chainsaw which is a good thing because I had more work to do and I was running low on fuel.

I finally reached the next fallen tree which did need my saw.

I had one more tree to remove, so I took to the road and headed up toward East/West Peak.

Along the way, I checked on the gate which the Meriden Water Department put across access to the Maloney Canal. The lock has been cut, probably by ATVers. I sent an e-mail to the water department to notify them of the loss. While I forgot to take a photograph, I did photograph the graffiti next to the lock, which makes me wonder whether the graffiti "artist" and whoever cut the lock are one and the same.

This is the 10th occurrence of this particular tag since November 2016.

This was no match for a pro, like me.

The last tree of the day would stretch my chainsaw beyond its limit.

That brown patch of leaves on the right is the result of a fallen tree pushing branches and saplings over.

I barely had enough fuel to finish the job. Close enough for volunteer work. I think you can clearly see the difference. Should I ever pass by with my chainsaw again, I'll finish the job.

I accrued some huge mileage today when I finally returned to the parking lot.